MasterCard issues contactless payment deadline

MasterCard has given European retailers a deadline of 2020 for ensuring all POS systems are contactless payment enabled

MasterCard has given European retailers a deadline of 2020 to ensure all point of sale (POS) systems are contactles-payment enabled.

The retailer said POS systems can be updated as and when they are needed, but all systems should be capable of accepting contactless payments by 1 January 2020.

This natural replacement cycle will begin in 2016 when all replacement POS terminals must be contactless enabled.

Chris Kangas, MasterCard's head of contactless payments in  Europe, explained that setting these guidelines will make it easier for contactless payments to develop further in the future.

Kangas said: "In 2013 alone the number of MasterCard and Maestro contactless transactions across Europe tripled and the volume spent on those transactions increased four times. Contactless users tell us on social media that they love tapping and want to tap more. Today’s announcement is a much needed stake in the ground, marking the next milestone for contactless.

Financial services firm Visa found that contactless payments increased by 18% between April and May of this year. The total value of contactless transactions increased by 14% between April and May 2014, reaching £126.7 million in May.

The UK is the second highest adopter of Visa contactless payments in Europe, and more than 90 million purchases were made with Visa contactless cards in the UK last year.

“The UK is actually one of the leading markets in the world for contactless adoption," said Zilvinas Bareisis, senior analyst at Celent.

“The UK certainly has taken huge strides in the last few years in terms of contactless adoption, both on the merchant side and on the consumer side, but we of course are talking about contactless cards, not necessarily NFC payments by mobile phone.”

Bareisis explained that, although contactless cards have taken off, NFC mobile payments are not as popular as the features are not reflecting consumer expectation, and due to lack of standardisation.

Bareisis said: “You have to deliver something a lot better than what you have today, and so far mobile payments have failed to really bring that promise.”

MasterCard’s push for a deadline on contactless enablement may help pave the way for mobile NFC payments, such as the Apple Pay feature on the new iPhone 6.

“Contactless and NFC capabilities is now a default standard for payments.” Bareisis said , “[Alternative payment solutions] all rely on the same contactless infrastructure and can work on the same terminals, that’s really the beauty of it.”

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